Is the food crisis eclipsing the importance of water?

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 02 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a604
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. 1London

    As the G8 prepares to meet in Japan, a charity organiser tells Geoff Watts that water and sanitation should be top of its agenda

    When the G8 group of developed nations meet on 7 July for the opening day of their 2008 summit in Hokkaido Toyako the international charity Water Aid will be among the many lobbying groups eager to scrutinise the final recommendations.

    Created to overcome poverty by enabling more of the world’s poorest people to get access to safe water and sanitation, Water Aid sees these two necessities as a neglected component of efforts at improving the lot of people in developing countries. Too often water is taken for granted, says Barbara Frost, the charity’s chief executive.

    Global water availability remains grim. Roughly a sixth of the world’s population—1.1 billion people—still has no access to clean water. In Africa 40 billion working hours are taken up every year in fetching and carrying it. In rural areas of the continent, households spend on average a quarter of their time …

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